During Inspire 2021, Microsoft announced Windows 365, the vendor’s latest addition to hybrid computing. Available later in 2021, Windows 365 is a cloud service that introduces a new way for users to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11. In this post, we dig into Windows 365 price and purchase considerations for enterprises that want to take advantage of its capabilities.
What is Windows 365 exactly? It’s a cloud PC as a service that users can stream from their personal Android, iOS device, Chromebook or PC. The power behind Windows 365 is Azure Virtual Desktop, along with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, giving customers a new managed experience for all their images, apps, data and settings for their users.
This debut from Microsoft is designed to overcome the challenges of an increasingly flexible, remote and distributed workforce. From Microsoft’s blog:
Our recent Work Trend Index found that 73 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to stay, but at the same time, 67 percent say they also want more in-person collaboration, post-pandemic. This creates the hybrid work paradox, leaving organizations around the world to grapple with how to connect in a hybrid world and provide workers access to organizational resources at home, in the office, and at all points between.
Windows 365 Price, Editions and Capabilities
Unlike Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365 will be available for a flat subscription rate and not a constantly changing rate based on consumption. All of this provides customers with a personalized full Windows experience that runs in the cloud and for users on any device. It offers users anywhere access to their personalized Windows Desktop experience as long as they have an internet connection. Windows 365 runs in any browser, or can be run in a local RDP client, which affords more capabilities and functionality. Licenses are assigned from the Microsoft 365 Admin center in the same way enterprises assign licenses for an Office 365 subscription.
There will be two editions available, with multiple editions available under each plan:
- Windows 365 Business: This is designed for businesses with 300 or fewer users. In this edition, the cloud PC is accessed and managed through windows365.microsoft.com. It supports the Desktop versions of Office Apps, Outlook and OneDrive. It connects with Azure AD only – it cannot integrate with Active Directory because there is no virtual network integration. No custom images are available and Windows 365 Business can be purchased with a credit card (subscription automatically renews). The Windows 365 price for the Business edition comes in three tiers as shown on Microsoft’s website:
- Windows 365 Enterprise: There is no cap for the maximum number of users in the Enterprise edition, although it does require customers to have existing Windows 10 Enterprise licensing. Windows 365 Enterprise is managed with Microsoft Endpoint Manager and requires Hybrid Join, which needs regular Active Directory (note – this may change in time). Unlike the Business edition, custom images are available. The Windows 365 price for the Enterprise edition also comes in three tiers:
Additional Windows 365 Price Considerations
At this time, it is unclear if existing Enterprise Agreement customers licensed for M365 E3, M365 E5, M365 F3 will qualify for a lower price. Given the proposed price point for even the basic offering for Windows 365 Enterprise, it makes sense that Windows 365 has an “Additional Product” classification (as opposed to an Enterprise Product classification, which would require it be licensed for all users).
There are clear advantages for enterprises that choose to leverage Microsoft’s cloud PC capabilities – especially right now as companies seek new ways to empower workplace flexibility and productivity. As is the case with any new Microsoft offering, the deal window will be open for early adopters, and there may also be opportunity to use this as leverage for optimizing licensing and costs in other areas. It’s early days for this offering – we’ll see how the market reacts, and how flexible Microsoft will be at the deal table.
- Blog: O365 Optimization: Getting to the Root of Suboptimal Licensing to Eliminate Cost Waste
- Blog:Who is the Ideal Microsoft Frontline User?
- Blog:The Microsoft True-Down: Is it Possible to Reduce License Counts?
- Bulletin:How to Knock Your Office 365 Purchase or Renewal Out of the Park
- NPI Service: Microsoft License and Cost Optimization Consulting